Record Bullfinch Numbers

January 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Pied Billed Grebe

This weeks photo is one of the garden Jays taken during last months harsh weather. Its colours seem to stand out better in the snow,

Not much birding done this week as I have had a very heavy film show schedule with two shows during the afternoon. However, the garden has again produced twenty species on two days. On the 26th we had fifteen Greenfinches and a garden record of six Bullfinches ( three males and three females). A friend called with a female Sparrowhawk that had just broken its neck through flying into his window. We were examining this in the garage when he exclaimed that he had just seen a Willow Tit on one of our feeders – a first sighting in Rochdale for him but a bird we now take for granted.

A visit to the hills on the 28th produced a Kestrel and two hundred Pink Footed Geese flying westwards. On 29th even though the temperature dropped to minus four overnight no Snipe or Woodcock were encountered locally. I received a report from golfers on Hopwood that on the 22nd they released a large hawk that was caught by its jesses on a barbed wire fence. It is a pity they didn’t remove the jesses at the same time to give it a sporting chance.

Barn Owls Suffer

January 23, 2011 at 11:08 am

Pied Billed Grebe

The BTO now inform us that following last months severe weather over one hundred Barn Owls have been recovered dead, twice the number that would have been expected in a normal period of snowy weather. These of course are ones that have been found so there will be many times that number still lying out there. The photo above shows the river Hodder in Bowland on Christmas Eve and as you can see it is completely frozen. As I film Kingfishers and Dippers on the river it remains to be seen whether any have managed to survive.

Whilst over at Bolton during the week I came across a flock of one hundred Waxwings. It was of course impossible to drive past without spending half an hour watching them. There were few berries around so they will be moving on soon.

On Hopwood on the twenty first of January two Woodcock were present plus a Green Woodpecker trying to find ants. A visit to Dovestones produced good views of Siskins and at least half a dozen Bramblings.

During the week the garden has been exceptional with twenty or more species recorded feeding on four consecutive days. Willow Tit, Nuthatch, Song Thrush and Long Tailed Tits have been the highlights.

Garden Stars

January 16, 2011 at 10:58 am

Pied Billed Grebe

This weeks photo is of one of the Fieldfares that were feeding on a single hawthorne bush at the rear of our garden last month. The garden has certainly starred this week with two Buzzards overhead on the 11th January, five Bullfinches on the 13th ( two females and three males) and eighteen Blue Tits on the 5th. Having seen Waxwings eating apples on a tree down the road I decided to put some red apples on branches in the garden. I didn’t have to wait long for on the 12th at 9.00am I walked out of the back door and heard a Waxwing. Two of them were at the back of the garden looking at the apples. Unfortunately at that very moment the window cleaner appeared with his ladder and they flew off! However it shows that it will work and more apples have been put out and I await their arrival.

During a short walk around Tandle Hill on the 13th we heard a Green Woodpecker calling for some time.

Death In The Snow

January 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Pied Billed Grebe

It didn’t take long into the New Year before the male Sparrowhawk struck in the garden. On the 4th of January, in the snow, he caught a Collared Dove and although I chased him off he returned after ten minutes to finish it off. It then took two hours of feeding before he was able to fly off with what was left of the carcass. I always feel bad about a kill in the garden but I suppose he has to survive Winter as well. To rub it in he returned in the afternoon looking for another meal!

The New Year started well with eighteen Fieldfares and fifty Redwings on Hopwood ,together with a Dipper on the stream. The day improved when I found seven Waxwings feeding on an apple tree at the bottom of Thornham Lane. The Fieldfare that had been present on these apples all Winter eventually chased them off but it was a good start to the year.

Today, the eighth, I found two other Waxwings feeding on rose hips along a hedgerow at Milnrow. Because of their size rose hips are the last resort and it will only be a matter of days before the Waxwings have moved out of the area.

On the fifth of January we had a record number of eighteen Blue TIts in the garden. Up to eight Long Tailed Tits have been coming daily along with the Willow Tit.